Alleged Howard University embezzler claims innocence after criticism on Twitter

Credit: Win McNamee

Credit: Win McNamee

Howard University has been thrust into the spotlight after a student allegedly stole thousands from the school’s financial aid office, according to recent reports.

Last year, six employees were fired from the historically black university for misappropriating funds, WRC reported. Former student employee Tyrone Hankerson Jr. was purportedly at the center of the scandal. He's been accused of stealing more than $400,000 of institutional funds used to help low-income students.

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The Washington Post reported that a university investigation found that employees who got tuition benefits to cover the cost of classes also got university grants. The Post reported that the investigation found that the double dipping exceeded the cost of attendance and showed that the workers may have been embezzling.

On Wednesday, Howard President Wayne Frederick released a statement "to provide some relevant updates regarding Howard's commitment to ensuring work integrity across all University offices, specifically the Office of Financial Aid," he wrote.

Frederick announced in the statement that the school would be implementing new policies moving forward. He also confirmed that a previous investigation revealed several employees received grants and discounts that exceeded the cost of tuition and kept the difference.

Howard's student newspaper The Hilltop reported that, in a follow up statement released later that day, Fredrick acknowledged frustrations about the incident.

“Hearing about the mishandling of funds at the University can be difficult to process. I can also understand how upsetting it is to feel that the University has not communicated with you regarding this incident,” Fredrick said. “The goal established at the onset of this investigation was to conduct it in a confidential manner that ensured a through examination of these issues without jeopardizing the integrity of the findings. However, that does not mitigate the sense of mistrust that many students and members of our community feel right now.”

Hankerson, who received his bachelors degree from the school and is a current graduate student there, released a statement Thursday through his attorney, writing, “I have done nothing illegal or wrong.”

On Thursday, the Howard University Student Association issued a statement to students in response to the news. The group also outlined questions about the alleged embezzlement, if the alleged embezzlement had been reported to authorities, and steps the university plans to take to reconcile student's accounts that may have been affected by the alleged incidents.

"What this ordeal has revealed about the administration only confirms what many students have long suspected -- the leaders of our university are opponents of transparency and shared governance," the statement said.

When news of the scandal hit the internet, many flocked to Twitter to express their thoughts. Several found the story baffling; some posted photos of the Hankerson in what appeared to be designer clothing.

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